Then Odysseus of many wiles answered her, and said:
“Mother, why, pray, wilt thou speak of them? Thou needest not at all. Of myself will I mark them well, and come to know each one. Nay, keep the matter to thyself, and leave the issue to the gods.”
So he spoke, and the old woman went forth through the hall to bring water for his feet, for all the first was spilled.
And when she had washed him, and anointed him richly with oil, Odysseus again drew his chair nearer to the fire to warm himself, and hid the scar with his rags.
Then wise Penelope was the first to speak, saying: “Stranger, this little thing further will I ask thee myself,
for it will soon be the hour for pleasant rest, for him at least on whom sweet sleep may come despite his care. But to me has a god given sorrow that is beyond all measure, for day by day I find my joy in mourning and lamenting, while looking to my household tasks and those of my women in the house,
but when night comes and sleep lays hold of all, I lie upon my bed, and sharp cares, crowding close about my throbbing heart, disquiet me, as I mourn. Even as when the daughter of Pandareus, the nightingale of the greenwood,1
sings sweetly, when spring is newly come,
as she sits perched amid the thick leafage of the trees, and with many trilling notes pours forth her rich voice in wailing for her child, dear Itylus, whom she had one day slain with the sword unwittingly, Itylus, the son of king Zethus; even so my heart sways to and fro in doubt,
whether to abide with my son and keep all things safe, my possessions, my slaves, and my great, high-roofed house, respecting the bed of my husband and the voice of the people, or to go now with him whosoever is best of the Achaeans, who woos me in the halls and offers bride-gifts past counting.
Furthermore my son, so long as he was a child and slack of wit, would not suffer me to marry and leave the house of my husband; but now that he is grown and has reached the bounds of manhood, lo, he even prays me to go back again from these halls, being vexed for his substance that the Achaeans devour to his cost.
But come now, hear this dream of mine, and interpret it for me. Twenty geese I have in the house that come forth from the water2
and eat wheat, and my heart warms with joy as I watch them. But forth from the mountain there came a great eagle with crooked beak and broke all their necks and killed them; and they lay strewn
in a heap in the halls, while he was borne aloft to the bright sky. Now for my part I wept and wailed, in a dream though it was, and round me thronged the fair-tressed Achaean women, as I grieved piteously because the eagle had slain my geese.